Born February 16, 1852 in Pittsburgh, PA, C.T. Russell was raised Congregationalist.
At age 18 (1870), and without any formal training, he started a Bible class, which six years later made him their “pastor.”
In 1879, he founded the magazine, “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom,” which published his unique views of the Scriptures as taught in his sermons. The first printing was 6,000 volumes.
As the movement grew, the money that came in purchased land in Brooklyn, NY, and large printing presses. The “Watchtower Bible and Tract Society” in 1884began cranking out literature, and by the 1970s, the Watchtower reached 17.8 million copies per month in 106 languages. The society also prints “Awake!” magazine.
In 1886, Russell published the first of seven books later known as “Studies In The Scriptures.” Through the 1890’s, the organization grew into an empire with farms, schools, properties and lots of income. Russell owned 99% of the corporate stock and was not accountable to anyone.
Russell’s most famous scandal was “Miracle Wheat,” supposed to grow 5X faster, which all of the faithful (Russellites) were to buy at $1/pound. It was proven by the government to be inferior.
Another scandal was Watchtower press releases about Russell’s world tour reporting of enthusiastic greetings wherever he preached, when in reality, he never stopped at some places, never gave many sermons, and few people attended most others. These scandals were exposed by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
In 1897, Mrs. Russell divorced her husband.
I My six volumes of Scriptures Studies … are not mere comments on the Bible, but they are practically the Bible itself.
C.T. Russell n 1912, Russell sued an evangelical pastor named Ross for defaming him in a pamphlet exposing Russell as a theologically uneducated heretic, one who knew no philosophy or systematic theology or the original languages. To prove defamation, Russell had to prove the allegations were not true. He perjured himself by saying that he could read Greek, but then a text was given to him. Ooops. Russell had only attended public school 7 years in his life, with no bible training. He had also never been ordained. Russell lost his case.
Russell was a huge egotist. See his famous claim in page 87.
The 7th book in the Studies In The Scriptures caused a split in the organization in 1917 (a year after Russell’s death), with a small group staying with Russell’s ideas, but the majority following Judge Rutherford, later taking the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” in 1931 to distinguish themselves.
JOSEPH FRANKLIN RUTHERFORD (1870-1942)
Rutherford was a lawyer and judge who did a remarkable job of eloquently defending the JW’s against the “rackets known as organized religion.”
Rutherford was tall, dark and handsome, with fabulous clothing and a booming voice.
He served about a year in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for violation of the Espionage Act (suspicious activities during WWI).
A militant, he attacked and jettisoned some of Russell’s teachings, which caused many to leave. He used radio and records to trumpet the message, and claimed to be Jehovah’s mouthpiece for this age.
He wrote over 100 books and pamphlets that were translated into 80 languages, many times the number of Russell.
NATHAN KNORR (D. 1977) & FREDERICK W. FRANZ (1992)
A calm, methodical teacher, Knorr led the JWs from 115,000 in 1944 to over 2 million members by his death in 1977.
It was under Knorr’s leadership that the society produced its first English translation of the Bible, the New World Translation. No translator would affix his name to the work.
Under Knorr and Franz, the control of the society over its congregations and members became stronger, and they increasingly denied connection with Russell. Most JWs don’t know of Russell, but they know of Rutherford.
In 1996, JWs had only 975,829 members in the US, but 5.4 million worldwide doing 1.4 billion hours of canvassing that year, and 5.4 million “Bible” studies. They print about 832 million tracts and booklets per year.
Jehovah’s Witnesses have no doctrinal statement, but their views are found in the Watchtower and Awake! publications. They claim that the Bible is their final authority, rather than new revelation, so Christians have to know their Bible well to detect the distortion of Scripture.
The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God as given in the original languages and has been preserved by the Most High God and is the dependable basis for faith.
Our View: JWs have undercut the Bible by creating the New World Translation – their doctrines are smuggled into the translation. God is one eternal Supreme Being named Jehovah, the creator and sustainer of the universe (Unitarian). Elohim is plural in majesty, not persons. His attributes are justice, power, love and wisdom. The doctrine of the Trinity was sown by Satan through Constantine at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD when the Roman Catholic Church was formed.
Our View: Their view of the Father (Jehovah) is pretty good. But they say Jesus was the first created being, and thus, not God (see below). They say that the Holy Spirit is just a force emanating from God. Jesus Christ is referred to by certain titles such as “the firstborn son of God” and “the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). They believe God created Jesus millennia before physical creation; God used Jesus as an agent in creating the world (they are anti-evolution). Jesus is a god, but not theAlmighty God, Jehovah (John 1). Thus, Jesus is not deity. Jesus was the archangel Michael in his pre-human state - see references on “the angel of the Lord.”
The Son was made into Jesus, the virgin-born human, to proclaim the coming of Jehovah’s Kingdom (which came spiritually in 1914) and to die as the perfect redemptive price for obedient men. Jesus completely laid aside his spiritual existence when he became a human (Phil 2). At his baptism, he was anointed by God’s spirit to become high priest and Messiah. He did not resurrect, but rose from the dead as an immortal spirit (not in his human body - 1 Peter 3:18), and is the Head of all creation under Jehovah. He is now again named Michael.
Our View: The denial of Jesus’ deity is an ancient heresy from the 4th century known as Arianism (from Arius).
In the phrase, “the beginning of the creation of God,” the word “beginning” means the source, originator or beginner. NWT – “the beginning of the creation by God.”
The term “firstborn” is the Greek word “prototokos,” from which we get our word “prototype.” Look at Colossians 1:15-18, but also Revelation 1:5, Romans 8:29 and Psalm 89:27 to see that “firstborn” in the Jewish culture meant a place of special importance.
They change John 1:1-3 in the NWT to say that “the Word was a god.”
They incorrectly apply Proverbs 8:22+ to Jesus instead of wisdom personified (see v. 12).